What purpose does the character of Uncle Ben play in the story?
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Uncle Ben acts as Willy's foil. In Willy's mind, Ben is everything Willy is not and hopes to be: successful, bold, "well liked." Ben only appears in Willy's imaginative ramblings.
Willy also wants to be the kind of father his son's can look up to: stong, wealthy, and competent. Ben fits this bill. In Willy's mind, he hears Ben brag: "William, when I walked into the jungle, I was seventeen. When I walked out I was twenty-one. And, by God, I was rich!" Willy bellows back: "That's just the spirit I want to imbue them with! To walk into a jungle!"
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